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By Ed Skyler, Executive Vice President for Global Public Affairs, Citi and Chairman of the Citi Foundation July 19, 2016 11:00 AM
The following blog post is part of the City Accelerator initiative, a collaboration between the Citi Foundation and Living Cities that aims to speed the adoption of innovative local government projects within and across cities that will have a significant impact on the lives of their residents, especially those with low incomes.
In a period of polarized national politics, citizens are increasingly looking to mayors to solve challenges and get things done. As a financial services institution focused on cities, Citi cares deeply about urban areas and we are proud of our efforts, through our Citi for Cities initiative along with Citi Foundation programming, to help cities manage their growth and thrive. We also know that the challenges facing cities are complex, and that it will take the input and best practices from the public, private and nonprofit sectors to successfully identify and implement innovative solutions.
For 18 months, the cities of Louisville, Nashville, and Philadelphia have been working to address some of their toughest challenges — from the impact of fires in abandoned buildings to low enrollment in taxpayer benefits to homelessness. While the issues are unique to each city, these cities have a common goal to provide quality services that are accessible to all of their citizens. Each city has collaborated with the City Accelerator to construct tailored strategies to approach their specific challenges. Along the way, they have also had an opportunity to share their obstacles and learnings so that these cities – and many others across the country – can benefit from the process.
Ahead of their final City Accelerator convening in Philadelphia in July, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney reflected on the changes underway in their cities, and how the initiative has helped their cities to lay the groundwork to ensure their cutting-edge efforts can be sustained.
By Ed Skyler, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, Citi June 29, 2016 02:45 PM
When we think about the many ways that Citi makes a difference in our communities, whether by helping get the lights turned back on in Detroit, volunteering in our neighborhoods or helping young people prepare for jobs in today’s economy, we’re always gratified by recognitions from organizations like Points of Light, the largest organization dedicated to volunteer service in the world.
This year, for the fourth year in row, we’re honored to be included in Points of Light’s Civic 50, an initiative that honors the 50 most community-minded companies in the U.S. This year’s Civic 50 honorees were selected for demonstrating a consistent commitment to helping to address a wide range of societal challenges through volunteerism, responsible business activities and philanthropic support.
By Eva Harder, Writer, Communications, America’s Promise Alliance June 22, 2016 12:15 PM
For the past six months, America’s Promise has published a series of profiles highlighting 2015 Youth Opportunity Fund grantees that are supporting innovative, scalable programs that place low-income youth on a path to college and career success. This is the first article to look at trends and best practices across all 12 of them.
The Fund is led by the Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance.
More than 5 million young people are not in school or working. The unemployment rate for Americans age 16-24 is 12.2 percent, more than twice the national average, and opportunities for low-income teens are often too far and few between.
In 2015, the Citi Foundation and America’s Promise Alliance set out to support programs that not only connect youth to economic opportunities, but also focus on inspiring and empowering young people to overcome barriers and fulfill their potential. The Youth Opportunity Fund invested in 12 nonprofits that are helping low-income youth build workplace skills to prepare them for careers in various sectors, further their education, and in some cases, break out of a cycle of generational poverty.
Much of what these nonprofits are doing are practices you’ll recognize.
They offer training and skill development, work experiences and industry connections, and informational support, like how to present in a job interview or apply to college. They eliminate financial hurdles to participate, and some of them even provide stipends. And not a single organization works alone, partnering with municipal governments, businesses and schools to create innovative programming and to expand their reach and expertise.
By Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Director of Corporate Citizenship, Citi May 18, 2016 10:30 AM
On Saturday, June 11, I’ll be joining tens of thousands of my colleagues, along with our friends and families, to celebrate Citi’s 11th annual Global Community Day. For the past decade, we’ve marked this annual day of service around the world by donating our time, skills and expertise to make a difference in the communities where we live and work. This year, together with our community partners, we will once again stand for progress by helping tackle a range of pressing challenges in our cities, from beautifying parks and streets to teaching young people the basics of financial know-how to helping communities bounce back from natural disasters.
Since the inaugural Global Community Day in 2006, more than half a million Citi volunteers have contributed more than three million hours of service to Global Community Day projects in hundreds of cities. This truly has become a tradition at Citi. While these statistics help tell a big part of the story about the positive impact we can have on individuals and communities, by participating ourselves in community activities, we can also see on a deeper level the tangible results of Global Community Day. Last year, I was with more than 100 other Citi volunteers at the Red Cross in New York City, making care packages for veterans and military service members overseas. We also made cards with hand written notes, thanking them for their service – it was the least I could do to give back to others who have sacrificed so much for us.
By Val Smith, Director and Head of Corporate Sustainability May 05, 2016 12:00 PM
The event was held at Rio’s new iconic Museum of Tomorrow, an achievement in sustainable urban architecture
Cities are at the forefront of combatting climate change. Many cities and municipal governments and agencies were party to the Paris Agreement reached at COP21 in December, and many have committed to ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals and meaningful climate strategies they must now implement. I recently participated in the first-of-its-kind global financing forum, hosted by the City of Rio de Janeiro, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), World Resources Institute’s Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI) and the Citi Foundation, where decision-makers from the private sector and nearly 20 global city governments convened to discuss the financial challenges cities face in pursuit of their sustainable climate strategies. The Financing Sustainable Cities Forum highlighted cities’ priorities around delivering sustainable urban solutions, including: cutting red tape, transit-oriented development and public-private partnerships.
An overriding theme of the forum was the sense of urgency many cities expressed for greater technical expertise in setting up public-private partnerships, a mode of project delivery that cities are increasingly looking to as a means of more efficiently delivering urban services. While public-private partnerships are great tools for leveraging private capital, their details determine how risks, revenues and costs are shared between a city and private partners over the term of a project. Experience and expertise are both required to ensure a strong partnership.
By Rachael Barber, Head of Community Development, EMEA May 04, 2016 09:30 AM
As an organization that does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions, we consider it our responsibility to support the cities and communities where we live and work. Within those communities we’ve identified high potential individuals and organizations transforming low-income communities by bringing together residents, nonprofits, businesses, and municipal agencies to accelerate urban progress and drive economic opportunity.
That’s why, as part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, we announced a partnership last year with the London Evening Standard and the London Community Foundation to invest £500,000 in "The Estate We’re In,” an urban transformation project that empowers residents of housing estates in London to identify the issues they regard as important and implement their own ideas to transform their neighborhoods and their lives.
With additional funding from the Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund, the Cabinet Office, Linklaters and Mount Anvil, over £1 million has now been invested in more than 100 community organisations in 23 London boroughs. Last month I had the opportunity to meet many of these organisations when we hosted a reception to celebrate their work at Citi’s offices in London.
By Jen Mayer, Cohort Lead, City Accelerator Cohort 3 May 03, 2016 01:00 PM
The following blog post is part of the City Accelerator initiative supported by the Citi Foundation. The City Accelerator, in collaboration with Living Cities, aims to speed the adoption of local government innovations to improve cities and the lives of their low-income residents.
The third cohort of the City Accelerator, which formally kicks off April 15th in Denver, includes four cities that need to finance improvements to vital, but often overlooked infrastructure. St. Paul needs to come up with an overall framework and strategy for stormwater control for three critical developments. Pittsburgh needs to identify a strategy to fund, finance and deliver improvements to its historic stairway system. The District of Columbia would like to improve a number of infrastructure projects, including street lighting. San Francisco needs to shore up its seawall.
At first glance, these projects don’t seem to have a lot in common. Yet each project involves the kind of infrastructure that stays in the background when everything is going right, and only leaps to front and center in the public mind when something goes drastically wrong. Most of us don’t know (or care) much about how stormwater control works in our neighborhood – but when our basement floods, we quickly become very interested! Street lights and stairways are just things that are there – until they aren’t. San Francisco’s seawall is perhaps the most dramatic example of infrastructure that you don’t really see or appreciate until something happens. As we saw with the levees in New Orleans, the cost of failure is so high that it can be worth a huge investment to prevent it.
Most of the projects in the third cohort don’t involve a single, soaring piece of landmark infrastructure. We’re not talking about the multi-billion dollar New New York Bridge, replacing the Tappan Zee bridge, or even a brand new drinking water plant or solid waste facility. These projects have challenges of their own, of course, but many of the cities are struggling to fund infrastructure networks, like stormwater control structures, street lighting and sidewalks, that are harder to point to and get people to care about until they fail.
By Margie Pagdanganan, Citi Private Bank Singapore Investment Centre Head April 13, 2016 08:00 PM
At the age of 23, Elaine Pacapac, a single mother with two young daughters who grew up in the Philippine province of Cavite, sought employment in Singapore as a domestic helper to give her children a better life. 11 years later, Elaine is still a domestic helper in Singapore but also a small business owner. With her support, her three sisters in Cavite help her run a profitable mini-grocery and she is now in the process of setting up another small business – a photocopying and printing shop.
Asked how she got to where she is now, Elaine fondly refers to her experience as part of the 2013 Citi-ASKI Overseas Workers Financial Stability Program. Introduced in 2012 and supported by the Citi Foundation, the program equips overseas workers, primarily Filipino domestic helpers, with financial and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills to help them achieve their financial goals, build assets and improve their livelihoods. The program is also offered to overseas workers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Indonesia. In addition to financial support, Citi volunteers have also been helping to teach some of the financial education classes on Sundays.
By Erika Gyllstrom Analyst, Power & Utilities, Corporate Banking April 13, 2016 10:00 AM
Our first week in Nakuru has been an intense, eye-opening and fantastic time. Although Nakuru is completely different from London, it was easier than expected to adapt as people are extremely welcoming, almost everyone speaks English (my Swahili is still a bit rusty) and our partner organization Balloon Ventures is doing a great job in showing us the ropes.
We were thrown in at the deep end from the very start, being sent out in teams of four to originate, test and develop ideas for a new venture aiming to help local business in Nakuru. Equipped with only minimal insight into the dynamics of entrepreneurship in Kenya, and Nakuru in particular, we set out to interview as many local entrepreneurs as possible to understand their businesses and the challenges they face. This culminated in suggestions to set up a local entrepreneurship magazine, a purchase aggregation service, and a combined mentorship and supply chain management program. Perhaps most importantly, this exercise made us think deeply about what transferable skills we possess that would be most helpful to small businesses here.
April 06, 2016 12:00 PM
Young people around the world need better economic opportunities, and increasingly the economic competitiveness of cities depends on their success. At the Citi Foundation, we work to inspire young people to believe in themselves and in their futures. That’s why, two years ago, we launched Pathways to Progress with a three-year commitment to invest $50 million to reach 100,000 low-income youth in ten cities across the U.S.
Through programs that cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, instill leadership skills through debate and participation in service projects, provide a first job, and create networks of professional and personal support through mentor relationships, Pathways to Progress has connected tens of thousands of young people to opportunities that are shaping their progress and improving their economic futures. Today, we’re well on our way to meeting and exceeding our original goal, having reached over 70,000 young people.